By Samantha Doyle
The long-anticipated announcement came on June 10th that LA County production for films and television may resume as early as Friday June 12th . Georgia was the first state in the US to release production guidelines sometime in late May, but many other countries  have already returned to full production. The Czech Republic started production on May 7th, France opened up on May 11th to allow for crews under 50 people, and Iceland fully opened their production, even to international professionals, on May 15th. These are just a few of the European countries who have released regulations and are back on set. With the green light set for California on June 12th, how are companies planning to reopen safely?
The best reference at this time is the white paper  released by the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force. The white paper is a 22-page document written by an extensive list of contributors  including members of AMPTP, SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild, IATSE, and Teamsters. Companies  such as Disney, HBO, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Brothers also had a voice in developing the recommendations. The white paper submitted to governors across the country addresses five areas of proper reopening including infection control, protecting/supporting cast and crew, physical distancing, training/education, and unique production-specific concerns. The document is quite extensive addressing the smaller concerns about sharing paper scripts and money handling up to larger psychological concerns about the anxiety the virus can cause cast and crew members.
Legally speaking, the white paper is not law. The white paper was provided to California Governor Newsom, New York Governor Cuomo, and other state governments  across the country for their consideration as the governors are making their own state regulations. Implementing the suggestions perfectly will not insure you are protected against a COVID-19 related lawsuit, but it still seems to be in the best interest of production companies to follow the suggestions for now. With a multitude of industry professionals working on the document and the governors using the suggestions as their guide, it’s likely that when the California regulations are released, they will be parallel to the white paper guidelines. The official regulations will surely include testing requirements, exposure and sick-leave instructions, personal protective equipment requirements, and cleaning standards which are all addressed in the white paper.
So, the best guides to reopening are the white paper and all CDC guidelines for reopening. Following these recommendations will give the cast and crew peace of mind as well as providing your company a legal safety net by showing your compliance with all available guidelines. Once the California regulations are released, it will be important to review your current COVID response plan and ensure that it is in line with the official regulations.
Samantha Doyle is a rising second-year law student at Loyola Law School where she is part of the Entertainment Law Fellowship and a board member for the Women In Entertainment Law Society.